Riots that erupted in major metropolitan areas during the past week have had a disruptive impact on our country which is already bearing the brunt of the persistent Covid burden. Food security is paramount in these troubled times where, if food is not looted, panic buying and breakdowns in food delivery systems result in empty shelfs in affected retail stores and a lack of product in the informal sector.
Fresh produce markets were affected with sales volumes taking a dip during mid-week at Johannesburg Market in particular, and at Tshwane Market to a lesser extent. Intensive security measures have been implemented at Johannesburg Market and sales have already picked up since yesterday. Durban Market was forced to shut down since Monday with an estimated loss of R7.6 million from potato sales alone.
The good news is that there is a high demand for potatoes, particularly at the Durban Market that is now open and also the Pietermaritzburg market. The markets are willing to do everything possible within their means to assist with delivery of potatoes. Producers are welcome to contact Mr André Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Durban Market and Mr Siya Khumalo (email@example.com) at Pietermaritzburg Market. In view of the havoc caused by the riots, what the consumers need now is food security rather than higher prices.
The informal sector comprises 68% of sales at fresh produce markets. A change in the profile of informal traders at some of the affected markets have been observed. Where regular traders cannot access markets due to riots, new entrants from unaffected areas are now making use of the opportunity to enter the informal trade. This phenomenon confirms the demand for potatoes.